tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 2, 2012 2:00am-3:00am EST
republicans go whole hog on birth control. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, out on a limbaugh. the man who leads the republican party and speaks for american conservatism showed us all today exactly what he and by proxy the gop itself thinks of young women who use birth control. rush limbaugh calls them sluts. he went further except for olympia snowe voted down the line to restrict insurance coverage for women's health. here's part of what rush limbaugh has to say. >> if we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it.
and i'll tell you what it is. we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch. >> we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch. that's rush limbaugh's view of insurance coverage for birth control. much more of this, the message the gop wants to send to women in an election year. is this what they want to say? rush is the spiritual and intellectual leader of the republican party. no one in the party dares speak against him. where are the republicans condemning what he had to say today? nowhere. where's mitt romney on this push for birth control? yesterday he was against it. before he was for it later in the afternoon. he first said what he believes, he doesn't like the idea of getting involved in this kind of thing. then he realized his job now is to parrot with the right wing wants him to believe. i guess he got confused which mitt he was being asked about. plus, olympia snowe's departure from the u.s. senate is another example of how in today's gop, moderates need not
apply. plus did some elements of the saudi government play a helpful role in 9/11? a lot of people have long suspected the answer is yes. two u.s. senators are now saying it out loud on the record. finally, let me finish with tough comments about the republican party's spiritual leader. we begin with rush limbaugh and the republicans who won't stand up against him. today he showed no remorse for the disrespectful language he used yesterday in talking about the georgetown student who testified about the importance of contraception in women's health. let's listen to him. >> miss fluke, here's the deal. if we're going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. and i'll tell you what it is. we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch. >> i don't know. i have never heard anything like that.
in a nod by rushbo at santorum and foster friess, his comments about women were supposed to use an aspirin between their knees. here's limbaugh using the same colorful reference. >> i will buy all of the women at georgetown university as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want. >> senator gillibrand, thanks for joining us. it's a strange night to have you on. i'm been wanting to have you on for a long time. you're one of the most outspoken senators. why is the republican party running today to avoid condemning this awful comment by their intellectual leader rush limbaugh? >> i think his remarks are incredible. they are so insulting to women. they are incredible. i can't -- they are so
inappropriate, i don't even know where to start. >> let me start with yesterday. let's look at a tape of what he said yesterday. this has been going on for two days now. plenty of time for the republican leaders who are pushing this restriction they are trying to put on health care for women. they could have said something. they are not. here's limbaugh. he started it all yesterday. let's listen to what he said then. >> what does it say that the college susan fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. what does that make her? it makes her a slut. right? it makes her a prostitute. she wants to be paid to have sex. >> late this afternoon, congresswoman slaughter of your state in a letter to speaker boehner signed by more than 75 members of the congress called on the house leadership to repudiate those comments. as leaders of the house that
initially denied this, miss fluke the right to speak, the republicans have a special obligation to condemn the atrocious and hurtful words spoken by mr. limbaugh. leader pelosi also called on republican leaders to condemn limbaugh's comments. are you hearing from any republican senators on this? are you hearing any of them saying this isn't us talk, even though we disagree on the policy question? >> i haven't heard a word from the republicans. we had a vote today on something so outrageous. such a complete disregard for the health and well-being of women. the bill today, the blunt amendment, would basically say that any boss could determine for any reason that he objected to or she objected to that a woman couldn't have access to basic medicine, basic health care. and i don't know why we're debating issues that were long settled decades ago. it's quite alarming to me that we're still talking about access to basic medicine and basic health care for women in this country. you add to that what rush limbaugh has been saying, and
it's this continuous slap in the face to america's women. and it's just such a disregard and a disrespect for them. and i think every republican should apologize for his comments and at least separate themselves from them. >> but there's a certain educational factor when people speak wrong. then you really hear the emotion behind the words. it seems to me that rush limbaugh has done the democrats and progressives, especially women, a favor here. because for several weeks, they argued on the right. this is about religious freedom. this is about the first amendment and religious freedom we all treasure in this country. rush made it clear it isn't. this is about birth control. this is about whether insurance policies, which are basically mandated now by the obama health care bill should include birth control or not. he says they shouldn't. it seems to me that's now the issue on the right. they've finally got to the point they wanted to raise. we don't want to pay for birth control, because we don't agree with it. or what?
how do you interpret it? >> i agree with your interpretation. what we decided in health care reform is the quickest way to bend the cost curve is make sure people have access to preventive health care. you have to remember, chris, 99% of america's women have taken birth control in their lifetime. 98% of catholic women. this is basic medicine. at least for 15% of women, they take it for other reasons than contraception. you're trying to create a law saying a boss can say whether a woman can take medicine that her doctor is prescribing for her for many reasons, whether it has to do with contraception or not. so what i find so problematic here is that they are just trying to deny women basic access to health care. i think america's women are watching this debate. they are understanding that these leaders in the republican party do not stand for them. their values or their priorities. and don't care about them or their families. >> you know, one of the great ironies here, and it's a tricky subject. and you and i know each other,
and to me, i'm very careful about these issues. i'm worried about saying the wrong thing. but it seems to me those who have a concern morally, not legally, about birth control, they are pro-choice because they believe it's up to the individual in a free society. they would like to see the number of abortions radically reduced in this country because it's usually the result of an unwanted pregnancy, by definition it is. if you have a lot of people taking birth control, especially young people who are single and don't want to have a child, this could be a god send. i hate to use this word but it is. all these young people would be encouraged and subsidized by the health care bill to use birth control if they are sexually active, reducing dramatically the number of unwanted pregnancies. it seems to me this is a win-win for everybody. but that's my judgment. >> that's what the health studies show. when women have access to family planning, they will make decisions about when it's best for them to have children. so when they do have children, these are wanted children. they are children they are welcoming into their lives.
>> let me talk to you about the politics of this thing. it seems to me we're finding on the edges of the two political parties problem areas. olympia snowe voted with your caucus today. voted against -- it's probably win of the reasons she's getting out of the senate right now. you have claire mccaskill getting hit. she's facing a tough re-election in missouri. it's always a tough state. it's right down the line politically. they are going after her in radio ads already. let's listen to what one of your colleagues is taking for agreeing with you. let's listen. >> first, they took over the banks. then they put government in charge of our health care. now what are barack obama and claire mccaskill focused on? regulating the catholic church. obama and mccaskill want to force the catholic church and americans of faith to abandon tenets of their religion. obama and mccaskill already forced us to pay for government bailouts and obama care.
tell them enough is enough. >> what would you say in response to that viewer in missouri? >> the ad is outrageous and a bold-faced lie. you're saying we're telling the catholic church what to do? we're not. president obama made such a reasonable and very respectful compromise. he excluded churches and synagogues and institutions that are primarily for religious purposes where people who work there are primarily of the same religion. those who aren't included are universities who can't pick and choose what laws you're going to follow. you can't choose which labor law you think is worthwhile. we decided that long, long ago. the supreme court justices the most conservative of them made that point. you're not allowed to pick and choose what laws you want to follow based on some religious objection. this is a long-settled law. in 28 states, this has been the law of the land for about a decade. where states have made the determination that these larger
institutions that serve the public at large in commercial ventures actually have to play by the same rules as everybody else. >> right. >> so the ad is a lie. i hope they hit back equally as hard. and claire mccaskill stood for the women of her state. 99% of american women, back to this issue again, take birth control in their lifetime. many for noncontraceptive reasons. american women want to know that claire stands up for them and that's what she's done. she stands up their values, their basic access to health care and access to medicine. and for the basic principle that bosses should not decide what medicines an employee should be eligible to take. it's really quite simple. >> i'm sorry to interrupt. i think you missed a point. not only did he compromise by exempting churches and synagogues. he went further later and said insurance companies would have to pay for this coverage and not require the churches or synagogues to sign on to something they can't within their own religious beliefs do so. i think he really went the extra
yard here. you're great to come on the show tonight. i didn't know you'd be coming on in the face of rush limbaugh, but i think you did a good job on that character of the republican party. thank you so much. senator kirsten gillibrand of new york. coming up, mitt romney was against the blunt amendment. that's the one who said no coverage for birth control in this health care bill. he said he was confused by the question that was put to him. maybe he's confused about who is he supposed to be today? the moderate governor of massachusetts or the new conservative hell raiser he's trying to pretend he is. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. with swiffer wet cleaning better doesn't have to take longer. i'm done. i'm gonna...use these. ♪ give me just a little more time ♪ [ female announcer ] unlike mops, swiffer can maneuver into tight spaces without the hassle and its wet mopping cloths can clean better in half the time, so you don't miss a thing.
mom? ahhhh! ahhhh! no it's mommy! [ female announcer ] swiffer. better clean in half the time. or your money back. ohio is the big prize on super tuesday next tuesday. we also have new polling data from the other super tuesday states. let's check the "hardball" score board. in tennessee, a new poll finds
rick santorum holding a big lead over mitt romney. a 21-point spread in the volunteer state. in vermont, a poll from a state college shows romney in the lead but santorum within striking distance. romney 34%, but santorum, 27% up in vermont. don't you love the publicity that gives all these colleges with their polling. we'll be right back.s y why youell in love wi her inthe first place. and why you still feel the same. but your erectile dysfunction -- that could be a question of blood flow. cialis for daily use helps you be ready anytime the moment's right. you can be more confident in your ability to be ready. and the same cialis is the only daily ed tablet approved to treat ed and symptoms of bph, like needing to go frequently or urgently. tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. do not drink alcohol in excess with cialis. side effects may include headache, upset stomach,
delayed backache or muscle ache. to avoid long term injury, seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours. if you have any sudden decrease or loss in hearing or vision, or if you have any allergic reactions such as rash, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about cialis for daily use and a 30-tablet free trial.
welcome back to "hardball." contraception has been a hot issue on capitol hill, but it's also spilled into the presidential campaign. mitt romney's under fire from rick santorum and the obama campaign for his changing position on the republican push to take birth control out of the health bill. on the air waves, rush limbaugh is beyond the pale with incredibly vile comments about a georgetown student who testified on capitol hill last week about contraception. those are our two topics for the "hardball" strategists tonight. will republicans come out and
denounce rushbo's offensive comments on women? and secondly, how does team romney try and spin yet another flip-flop? with us, democrat steve mcmahon and former rnc chairman michael steele who is also an msnbc analyst. mr. steele, here's rush limbaugh that started it all with his show yesterday. he's the spiritual leader. you guys are all afraid to offend. let's listen to him on this issue of who is a slut and who isn't. let's go. >> what does it say about the college co-ed susan fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? what does that make her? it makes her a slut, right? it makes her a prostitute. she wants to be paid to have sex. >> you know, this cost don imus a lot of career, this kind of talk. calling people sluts, this kind
of stuff. i just wonder about this guy who you guys all bow before as the great alexa hente. that either approves your crop of thinking every year. are you going to take him on or leave him out there alone? >> i've already gotten in trouble on that front. remember, i tried to put in context when asked as chairman, you know, what does rush limbaugh mean to the party? he means different things to people. in this instance, a lot of people have a problem with it. i'm sure his lawyers are having a conversation with him about the fact this young woman may have something to say about what he called her on national radio. now you put it in the context of hyperbole and entertainment and, you know, free speech, but there are lines. when you're having a national political discussion, the political parties have to be sure that they clearly distinguish where they are and where the entertainment picks up.
and i think in this particular case, that line has been crossed. i don't think republicans are standing here saying we agree with rush on this because i think it's above the pail. it's not part of advancing the public discourse right now. the name calling and all of that, so i have to put it in the category of entertainment. >> i understand why you're doing that. i think you are a great guy, obviously, michael, and i think you do know the difference. but let's bring in steve. i don't think every republican thinks of this guy as entertainer of the year. they listen to his spiritual, ideological comfort three hours a day on the radio and buy his act. >> i don't think that's true. not every republican. >> i'm waiting to see one republican elected official go after this guy. steve? >> michael, listen. i love you, man. but he sounded today like a vile, disgusting pervert who had come completely unglued on the radio. i cannot believe what he said. i cannot believe he'll get away with it. i can't believe it won't cost
him millions of dollars in a slander suit that if this woman is smart she will bring tomorrow morning. it was outrageous. i can't believe he hasn't apologized for it already. there's nothing entertaining about disparaging misogyny. and that's exactly what it was. it was appalling. it was disgusting. it wasn't entertainment in any sense. >> he didn't just call her that word. he said he wanted to see videos of her performing sex on television. what is that about? >> i'm not disagreeing. i agree with what you're saying. this crosses a very bright line. he probably will have to answer to it. her lawyers, if she doesn't have one, will have one soon and will have something to say about this. but in the back and forth of the national debate, this has no place. that's the bottom line. >> michael, i think you would agree -- >> we're beating a dead horse here. >> yeah, we are. >> let me go to michael on this. you called rush limbaugh entertainment.
here's what i do for entertainment. i try to keep up with mitt romney. i try to keep up with this guy. he's my entertainment. here he was yesterday. on ohio news network yesterday. he was asked a direct question. where do you stand on this blunt amendment? the amendment was voted down today on a party line vote basically that said you shouldn't apply the health care bill of barack obama to coverage of birth control. he said very directly he was against the bill. and laid out why. let's listen to the presidential front-runner yesterday. >> it's being debated later this week that deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception. have you taken a position? he said he was for that. we'll talk about personhood in a second. but he's for that, are you for that? >> i'm not for the bill. but the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, a husband and wife, i'm not going there.
>> so there's a principled statement. a presidential candidate should not get involved in a relationship between a man and woman. whether they use birth control or not. okay. a short time later in another radio interview with another good guy, howie carr, a good buddy on the right, romney said he misunderstood that question. let's listen to him with howie carr, a friendly interviewer. >> i didn't understand his question. of course, i support the blunt amendment. i thought he was talking about some state law that prevented people about getting contraception. i thought it was some ohio legislation where employers were prevented from providing contraceptives. so i talked about contraceptives and so forth so i really misunderstood the question. >> you know, you have to wonder about leadership here, michael. is this guy a leader or follower? two hours later, he flips. flips. >> i think, chris and steve, i think mitt romney gave a very honest answer in the first instance. i think he spoke as someone who
as a former governor has had to deal with these types of issues. he spoke in an honest way. and i think the pressures of the campaign and the fact that his main guy, his legislative liaison is mr. blunt himself, caused this retreat, if you will, on the subject. >> this is what i mean by entertainment. in other words, the candidate for president of the united states, now leading in your party's polls, has to check with his lobbyist to fill in on where he stands on a matter of conscience. >> i'm not going to let you get away with that. you're not going to put it in that context. >> i put it in your context. >> you act like you're a new bile person to politics. this is the reality of it. he spoke in an honest moment. and then -- >> wait a minute, hold up, boom, boom. and then they have to go back and fix it. that's the bottom line. i'm just telling you that's what happened. >> who is going to be president of the united states if he gets elected?
should he get elected, it's always possible. which guy is going to be president of the united states? the honest one or the flip-flopper? >> you act like barack obama hasn't had to go check some stuff out. you act like the ebb and flow of a campaign doesn't matter for anything. when hillary clinton made the mistake in south carolina, what was that? >> michael? michael? >> yes, sir. >> this isn't the ebb and flow of a campaign. this is mitt romney. and the problem here for mitt romney is this reinforces a perception that is persistent and repetitive that he wants to have it both ways on every issue that's controversial and he will say as a venture capital guy whatever it takes to close the deal. today your republican nominee for president, if somebody says blunt, rubio amendment, first of all you should know what it is. and secondly, your political instinct should be, let's see,
blunt and rubio. i'm for that. they are republicans. they are guys i want to have support me i'm for that bill. this is something that's been on the front pages of every major newspaper for the past three or four weeks. >> give a chance to respond. did he not know who blunt and rubio were? >> i'm not disagreeing with you here. i said the man answered honestly in the first instance. then the politics set in and he's made the course correction. to your point, steve, i would agree. this is part of the problem that the base has with romney up until now. we don't know where that anchor comes to rest. and that's what he's got to fix. >> there isn't one. it's getting pulled along at the bottom. >> i can't wait to -- never mind. you gave me an excellent explanation of what to expect if we get a president romney. you laid it out quite well, michael, how he's going to behave. he'll tell us the truth and then when he gets a call from his top guy on the hill, he'll tell us what that guy believes. >> okay, whatever. >> your defense was as weak as i've ever seen one. by the way, the georgetown law
student sandra fluke, who was insulted by rush limbaugh, will be ed schultz's guest tonight. georgetown has great students. i'm so lucky to live in the same town as that great school. it's a jesuit school. the first jesuit school in the country. it's a great university. i personally am offended by what rushbo has to say about it. remember when mitt romney said he's always been a hunter? well, romney's position on guns as evolved. wait until you hear him. he gets so -- well, just like he was a minute ago about birth control. he's not really comfortable with the issue. he doesn't cling to guns. you're watching "hardball." [ female announcer ] if whole grain isn't the first ingredient
back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. what a show tonight. first up, master of disguise. remember in 2007 when mitt romney got caught, well, stepping all over himself when he tried to strike a chord with gun owners? here's what he said during the '08 race when he tried to talk up his hunting skills and then again at a debate last month. >> i'm not a big game hunter. i've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. small vermins if you will. and i began when i was, oh, 15 or so. and have hunted those kinds of vermins since then. more than two times. i'm not going to describe all of my great exploits. but i went moose hunting actually. not moose hunting, i'm sorry. elk hunting. i'm not the great hunter that some on this stage probably. rick perry, my guess is you're a
serious hunter. >> that may be the only time in history when any person said varmint, if you will. it might be one case where rick perry had the upper hand with those unconvincing statements behind him. you might think romney would have something else scripted by now. not quite. here's how he fared yesterday on the issue again of gun control. >> i believe in the second amendment. i'll protect the second amendment. i have guns myself. i'm not going to tell you where they are. don't have them on myself either, all right? i guess he was worried someone may want to frisk him anyway. >> finally, the united auto workers continued their convention with former president bill clinton taking the stage. he had nothing but praise for the auto industry bailout, but what he said about mitt romney's lack of support for the bailout that hits the issue hardest. let's listen to the former president. >> i happen to think this auto industry package is the most important thing that was
initiated by president obama and the administration. the president could have walked away from this. the government would have walked away from it. we wouldn't be here today. every time i hear mitt romney talk about this, i think his daddy must be turning over in his grave. >> there's the most popular man in the country. the candidate's father, george romney, he was the long time president, the man who saved american motors. but just in this case, i'd be careful about using family issues with a political rival. you should never talk about the father to the son. up next, is there any room for moderates in the republican party anymore? that's a good question. you could say the same thing about the democrats. the big question about olympia snowe left the senate. she's leaving at the end of this term. is there any room for the old republican party of rockefeller and people like that? you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc.
we're back with an issue close to my heart. moderates are an endangered species. in both parties. the latest example, a really good senator, senator olympia snowe of maine has decided this week not to seek re-election. her exit and criticism of the toxic environment in congress today has many people wondering whether moderates can survive in today's polarized political climate. blanch lincoln and christy todd whitman. both are moderates. thank you for coming on. i'm going to step out of the way. i'm just a television commentator. you guys have ran for office. won election. difficult elections. lost some. i don't think christy todd ever lost any. you lost that first one for governor up there. >> no, senate. >> that's right. that was a close one. tell me your views about the two political parties. i know you want to hit both. why is there no room for people
crossinging the aisle, making deals with the other side, being close to the aisle so you can be one of those people that helps make those deals work? >> i'll just jump in there. >> go ahead. >> hello, christy, it's great to be with you. >> it's because it's all about politics. it's all about who is going to win and stay in charge. it's not about what are we going to get done and do for the country. that's why it's so sad to see olympia leave. she was amazing. she was always about hard work, solving the problem and getting down to making a difference. >> i wonder, governor, who is supposed to represent a state like maine, which is like a middle of the right state to begin with? do they have to have a lefty or righty there when most of the state is neither? >> most of the country is neither. you know that. we know that. as the senator said, what we have put politics ahead of policy. it's damaging. it's time for the american people to stand up and say
enough of this. we have had it. we're not going to allow this to go on anymore. we have serious issues that are not being addressed. it's all about what's going to get me another vote in caucus. what's going to get me another percentage on my re-elect, not how do i solve the problems and do what i've been elected to do which is represent the people. i think we have an opportunity in this election cycle with americans elect, it's a new internet way of nom nating bipartisan team that will be on the ballot in every state in the nation for president. but we're going to have to do things like that to get people to sit up and say enough already. >> let's talk about the vote today. olympia snowe joined the democrats and i believe manchin from west virginia and bobby casey of pennsylvania joined the republicans. what do you think of that? that seems to be getting back to the older way where there was spillover. your thoughts, senator lincoln. >> there's got to be spillover. but there's got to be a conscious effort at going through these efforts and
figuring out what the middle ground is so you don't just have one or two crossing over but that you're building a consensus in the middle. we have to change peoples' perspective and make sure they know they are never going to get 100% of everything they want. that that 90% is critical because it helps us move the ball from the 10 yard line to the 50 yard line. >> is a lot of this fundraising where you just -- the parties have to play to their base. it's not always the base. it could be just the wealthy people. on the democratic side, they go all the way on certain issues. you know how fund-raising goes. you know they have automatic ones and then they don't have to make any deals. i was thinking the tough race, claire mccaskill is facing in missouri now for example. >> you know, it's about -- they are playing to the base. but the problem is the base is a small percentage in each of the parties. the issue that we have, the american people started turning off because they are so
disgusted by what they see going on. that's why independent registration is starting to surpass republican or democrat. but that's the wrong response. they don't vote. we have a 10% average voter turnnow the primaries which means you are leaving it to the very most partisan people to vote. and they tend to be the ones that are excited by the red meat issues and those are the issues not most important to people's everyday lives. they are the social issues. we're not talking about the economy the way we need to. we don't have an energy policy. you can go down the list of things we need to solve. and compromise has become a really dirty word. but if you go back to our founding fathers, finding consensus is what it was all about and why we have the separation of powers and the constitution. why we're set up the way we are. >> the most important topic, senator snowe is leaving from maine. she could have won by 70% if she wanted to. her cousin tells "the new york times" the pressure was becoming too much for the senator. social conservatives and the tea party activists in maine were hounding her at home while party leaders in washington had her hemmed in and steered the
legislation away from matter she's cared about. there was a constant struggle to accommodate everyone and a lot of pressure on her from the extreme right. we were talking before we went on, if i ever got elected to anything, i know i'd be a maverick and i'd like to be a maverick. i like to go in the cloak room and say if you don't like me today, tough. you need my vote. that's hard to do as a senator. >> it is, but if you want to really get something accomplished and that's what you're here to do. we're moving to politicians instead of public servants. you have to be able to stand up and say this is not going to get us to where we need to be. >> i think progressives like watching my show. i have to tell you in many ways, 21% of the country calls itself liberal. 21%. you do not run the presidency, you do not hold it for long if you don't get moderates and a few conservatives to see your way in terms whof they think should be president. you'll lose every election if you vote that way. ideologically. your party is dominated by the right. so that base is getting pretty
scary for you guys. you moderates. thank you for coming on. don't get mad. don't leave mad. thank you christy todd whitman and governor blanch lincoln. up next, was the government of saudi arabia involved in any way with the september 11th attacks? there's some very interesting tough coming out. a lot of people have thought this for a long time. now we have two senators saying it did happen. this is "hardball" only on msnbc.
governor chris christie of new jersey vetoed that bill to allow same-sex marriage in his state of new jersey saying he wants the issue put on a ballot for a referendum. now a new quinnipiac poll shows same-sex marriage has broad support in the garden state. take a look. 57% of new jersey voters say they support same-sex marriage. that's interesting. it's a new high for the poll. only 37% oppose it. it looks like he's off base on this one. we'll be right back.
welcome back to "hardball." 10 1/2 years with after the september 11th attacks, one of the most nagging questions to some remains the possible role of the saudi government in the whole thing, or at least elements of it, in what happened that horrible day in our country. well, former senator bob graham, a smart, serious guy led a joint congressional inquiry into the attacks and served as chairman of the senate intelligence committee back then. here's what he said in an affidavit filed by a lawsuit of the saudi government brought by families of the victims.
"i am convinced there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the september 11th attacks and the government of saudi arabia." what exactly did that direct line look like and why after ten years are there still so many unanswered questions? well, eric is an investigative correspondent for "the new york times." we're lucky to have him today. and also lucky of robert barry, a former cia officer who worked in the middle east, and also "time" magazine's intelligence columnist. eric, you first, delineate what you think we know now about the possible role of the saudi government establishment in the hell of 9/11. >> well, there have been ten questions now about the saudi's role. senator kerry and senator graham those quets have never been answered. what role did charities play, there was a very suspicious character in san diego who knew two of the hijackers, provided them money and had links to saudi officials, getting money
from riyadh. 15 of the 19 hijackers were from saudi arabia and bolin himself, his family had had roots there for generations. so there has been this percolating effect for the last ten years, pu now you have two very big names in 9/11 investigations. >> are they saying that the saudi establishment that we see as an ally, and the president, remember w. walking hand in hand with the guy, who they kiss up to and they want our protection and we want their oil, are these two senators saying that those people who pretend to be our friends had a clear hand in 9/11? >> they are suggesting that members of the royal family and royal institutions may have had a role in at least financing the attacks. >> purposefully? >> purposely. that's certainly their implication. whether the saudis? >> where do you come out on this, bob barrett. i trust you so much. do you think, based upon this, that there's evidence that the royal family, the ones we deal with as friends, are really our enemies here?
>> oh, i think there's a real problem here. look at it, chris. these two guys get off an airplane at l.a.x. they run into a saudi official who takes them under his wing to san diego, pays for them. the same official is getting money from the saudi embassy. he's spirited out of the country, he's unavailable for an investigation right now. and as eric said, 15 of the saudi hijackers were recruited inside the kingdom. we don't know how -- how they were vetted and the rest of it. and saudi arabia has simply refused to answer those questions. they're covering up something. this is not one of our best allies. >> well, the truthers, those who believe that our own government was involved in 9/11, have an absolutely opposite view. they believe we did this to get us in war, to justify a war with iraq or whatever over there, to make us more hawkish. this seems to be -- this is the people over there who didn't want us involved in that war, isn't that case?
>> wait, chris. these are the crazies. these people are the ones that marginalize the argument by getting involved in. this government was not involved. what this government did was afraid of losing saudi arabia as a near ally, and closed off the investigation. and these are two very serious senators that have brought these allegations up. >> do they believe, as far as you can tell what they believe, do they believe that the saudi establishment had a hand in the 9/11 hell? the saudi establishment? >> yes. >> unbelievable. eric? is that how you read it? >> well, the interesting thing now is where this goes in court. because these declarations from the two senators are coming in the midst of a multi-billion dollar lawsuit. >> and these are the people who are the relatives of those who lost their lives are suing the saudi government. >> they've been stopped from serving in court for years now. they've just got a green light from the appellate court. more than the money, they want to find out what happened, and this may be the best avenue through court.
>> but we know al qaeda did it, we know that al qaeda is tied in with -- >> well, they are suing saudi institutions, dozens and dozens of saudi institutions that they say -- that the families claim, along with insurance companies, that claimed out billions of dollars, claim were behind this. and kerry and graham are now saying, we're on your side. we think the saudis may have been more deeply involved than they say. >> why did the bush administration of george w. bush rush those saudi people out of the country so expeditiously and mysteriously, right after 9/11, bob? >> we needed saudi arabia's help on invading iraq, one. i think that was in the cards. 9/11, we were looking for allies. and it was really unthinkable that the country that is the world's reserve tank for oil could be on the other side. it was just something too terrifying for people to look at. and i think there's a lot of fbi agents that are very angry about this, that weren't able to pursue this. they'd have a lot more to say.
why, specifically, the investigation was cut off. >> so where's it headed right now? you first, bob. where do you think this news development here, that the two u.s. senators, former senators, credible people, highly credible, now believe that there's something to the saudi connection. where's it headed? >> i don't think it's going anywhere. we're on the verge of a war with iran. we need saudi arabia. we're going to need it if we do get dragged into this war. >> okay, more cover-up. bob, thank you so much. more cover-up. that's sad to know. we like to know what happens here, especially when it involves so many of our people that we care about. bob baer and eric lichtblau, thank you. let me finish with rush limbaugh, well, you can't finish him off, but let me try to finish with him and his way back machine. this guy is from another decade. [ female announcer ] women have made it the number one selling anti-aging cream undeniably. it creamed unbelievably a $500 cream. and now women have made regenerist microsculpting cream also unscented. women love it. in original and also fragrance-free.
let me finish tonight with this. i think the republican party's gotten trapped in the way back machine that sherman and mr. peabody used in the days of bullwinkle and rocky, the squirrel. they and rush limbaugh seem to think that young women using birth control is a matter for hot debate, that they can score points attacking those young people for protecting themselves from pregnancy during their college years. well, are they crazy? are they politically nuts enough to think that the way to win votes in 2012 is to head into the long-ago territory of attacking people for using birth control? i have not heard a priest give a sermon on this topic since i was in preschool. why are those in the church tent rallying up people they put to bed a half century ago.
listen to limbaugh, calling a young college student a slut. just listen to him, this man who leads the republican party spiritually. >> what does it say about the college coed susan fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. what does that make her? it makes her a slut, right? it makes her a prostitute. she wants to be paid to have sex. >> and he continued today. >> so miss fluke, and the rest of you feminatzis, if we are going to pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. and i'll tell you what it is, we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.
i will buy all of the women at georgetown university as much asprin to put between their knees as they want. >> i get it, rush. you don't like young women wanting to have birth control. that explains that language. well, this is explain. that rush limbaugh doesn't want young women to be certain to have birth control provided in their insurance policy. why is he getting into this? why is he so hot to trot to use this kind of language on this stuff? why is he attacking people here, reducing them to something very low, calling a young woman he's never even met, a law student, a slut. talk about her making her perform sexually for a video shoot, all because she wanted to testify on behalf of college students getting birth control as part of their health insurance before the united states congress. well, this ladies and gentlemen, is the guy republicans members of congress treat like a pharaoh. that's "hardball" for now.